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Vaccination-autism myth lingers: poll

With disease-free sandpits now on the national agenda, all parents might have to support child vaccination. But this doesn’t mean many aren’t worried about it.

The latest Australian Child Health Poll, Vaccination: Perspectives of Australian parents, bears this out.

Conducted by researchers from Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital, the poll of 2000 Australian households found that nearly a third of parents held vaccination safety concerns.

Chief among these were that there’s a causative link between vaccination and autism (10 per cent of respondents), that vaccines include toxins like aluminium and mercury (10 per cent), and that vaccinations can ‘overload’ a child’s immune system.

Of the five per cent of respondents whose children’s vaccinations weren’t up-to-date, many had misguided reasons for this lateness. A third thought runny noses and coughs were reasonable grounds for missing jabs.

Perhaps more worrying was that among this cohort, a sixth of children were refused healthcare due to their unvaccinated status. This goes against Australian medical protocol. Paediatrician and Australian Child Health Poll director, Dr Anthea Rhodes offered that more research must be done to understand why refusals occur.

Despite these apparent misgivings, Rhodes deemed the poll’s results a “good news story”.

“The vast majority of people support vaccinations and keep them up to date”, she said.

Though, for those led astray by vocal anti-vaxxers, or those whose concerns are simply misplaced, Rhodes thinks it takes a community to teach them vaccination truths – early childhood educators included.

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